This Good Friday, Laura Tharion challenges us to embrace and protect all sacred spaces and places.
Last week, Noongar elder and deeply respected Christian leader, Rev. Sealin Garlett, presented your Common Grace petition to W.A. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier.
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In attendance at the meeting - along with Rev. Sealin Garlett (the Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress Chair) – was: Cheryl Lawson (Noongar Worship Leader); Rev. Ken Williams (Acting Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod of W.A.); Geoff Bice (Justice and Mission Officer); and me (Jarrod McKenna, National Director of Common Grace).
Together, we handed over 1500 personal messages of love and solidarity, and were given the opportunity to discuss the situation with Minister Collier. Our conversation included: the need for consultation processes; discussion of the diversity of communities affected; and our desire to genuinely exhaust all avenues to resolve the situation, beginning first with consultation but not ruling out nonviolent action if necessary and requested by those we stand in solidarity with.
Rev. Sealin praised the positive initiatives the Minister has put in place, but insisted with an unrelenting kindness that the threat of closure of the 150 communities must cease. He explained that for First Peoples, “The land is our pulse beat.”
As a unified group, we specifically asked the Western Australian State Government to:
- Use negotiated partnership approaches to work with Indigenous peoples in developing a detailed consultation framework and evaluation process to ensure the free, prior and informed consent of Aboriginal peoples (This includes the right to negotiate and communicate in their language of choice, and through their specified mechanisms).
- Provide genuine reassurance to communities that services will not be withdrawn, unless this outcome is self-chosen and thorough transition support is provided.
- Maintain full transparency and ensure the presence of independent monitors throughout the consultation process.
- Renegotiate funding arrangements with the Federal Government as was done in South Australia.
These were well received by the Minister and we look forward to seeing how things progress. Please pray with us for justice to reign as Minister Collier, Premier Barnett and their teams make decisions about their next steps.